This is the final entry in a four-part series on traveling to Thailand to document the journeys of two Houston natives exploring Muay Thai in its element. Read part one here,  part two here, and part three here.

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Bangkok's skyline from 40 stories high.

The final leg of my journey: Bangkok. A city where 8 million people crowd into a space the size of Oklahoma City. Outside the 605 square miles of Bangkok proper, another 6 million people live in the surrounding Bangkok Metropolitan Region, for a total of 14 million residents—over 22 percent of the entire Thai population. All around, you're surrounded by skyline and cityscape: 581 tall buildings tower overhead, the fifth largest concentration of skyscrapers anywhere in the world.

This is Muay Thai mecca. If you fight Muay Thai, you want to end up in Bangkok. 

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A fighter prepares for his match inside Lumpinee Stadium, sporting a headpiece called a mongkol and arm bands called prajioud, necessary accessories for the traditional Wai Kru dance before every fight.

There are two major stadiums in the city, Lumpinee and Rajadamner (or Raja for short). I would be watching a fight at Lumpinee. You can feel the energy when you pull up, hear the roars inside from the busy streets: yelling and chanting during fights in which the crowd roots loudly for its chosen corner. It was unreal, and became even more unreal when I discovered that we had ring-side seats in addition to the opportunity to go backstage and photograph the fighters preparing for the night's big match. 

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A fighter performs the Wai Kru before his bout.

The next day, we took a small break, as I had another must-see in Bangkok: the Grand Palace, the official residence of the Kings of Siam (and later Thailand) for the last 234 years. After a questionable moto taxi ride, zipping thru cars and traffic, we arrived.

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The Grand Palace remains one of Bangkok's most popular tourist destinations, and for good reason.

Neither pictures nor words could do the palace justice. Each of the 2,351,000 square feet of the palace complex was meticulous, painstakingly thought out—every nook and cranny filled with significance, every tile, every statue, every painting rich with meaning. And at the center of it all sat the famed Emerald Buddha, its folded arms and legs carved from verdant jade, its head crowned with blazing gold.

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Every single detail of the Grand Palace is stunning in both design and execution.

Afterwards, we took a walk thru Sam Phraeng, a neighborhoody enclave of restaurants, hostels, souvenir shops and an eclectic mix of people from all over the world that felt somehow removed from the hustle and bustle of Bangkok at large.

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Night falls over Bangkok as seen from an 11th floor Airbnb.

We finished the evening soaking in the 11th floor infinity pool overlooking Bangkok at an Airbnb that had cost far less than anything I could book back home. I felt an immense feeling of calm and joy as my trip came to close, night falling on the bright city below.

I couldn't think of a better way to end my journey, and I couldn't wait to return. After all, there is more Muay Thai to capture in Thailand than could ever be done in one trip.

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Gloves and robes await future fighters at Lumpinee Stadium.

This is the final entry in a four-part series on traveling to Thailand to document the journeys of two Houston natives exploring Muay Thai in its element. Read part one here,  part two here, and part three here.

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